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So your baby is finally all baked and freshly out of the oven- say hello to your little one and welcome to parenthood bliss! Tips on how to clip your 1-week old baby’s tiny nail, how to give your baby their first bath and how to recover from childbirth as a deflated mamma!
Your baby's first week after birth
For starters, let us break this to you- your baby will most likely not look like those perfect baby’s you see in commercials. Do not expect your baby to look their actual color or to have smooth skin in their first-week post-birth. Your little one, in fact, will most likely be puffy-eyed and will have wrinkled skin around the 1st week after birth. This is because they have, after all, been cramped in your tiny belly before they took birth, in most cases, following a squeeze through the tiny birth canal.
However, as the parent of this little one, you need to ensure that you pay special attention to cuddles and skin to skin contact with the baby as it is right from day 1 that the bonding process starts. In fact, the first couple of weeks are rather critical, to say the least. It is also possible that you or your partner may not be feeling very attached or in love with the baby, as you expected, however, be assured, this is only normal as this baby is an absolutely new addition to your life. While it may take some days, your parental instinct will kindle soon and be wary, there will be no going back hence!
Your 1-week-old baby's development and physical growth
Let us look at what is happening with your baby and in their body in terms of their physical development in the first week after birth.
1. Your baby's weight:
- The vast majority of average full-term newborns weigh between 5½ and 9½ pounds and measure between 18 and 22 inches long.
- Expect your baby to lose about 5-10% of their birth weight in the first few days after birth. This lost weight is typically recouped around the end of the second week by breastfeeding babies while babies on formula might bounce back even earlier.
2. Your baby's sleep:
- Typically, newborn babies until they hit the 3rd or the 4th-month mark need about 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period; usually waking every two to four hours for food. Your baby may, in fact, also be very sleepy in the first few weeks after birth, not giving you a lot of ‘awake time’ to play with them. However, this is only normal as your baby is essentially recovering from the work their little body had to put in at the time of their birth.
3. Your baby's diet:
- Newborn babies consume roughly 16-24 ounces of breast milk or formula milk in a 24 hour period.
Your newborn and 1-week-old baby's reflexes
Your baby in their first week of birth is going to be an absolute delight! This cute little alien-looking creature (who will be the cutest and prettiest to your eyes) is going to move quite a lot.
- Expect the baby to lift their head briefly when you place them on their tummy.
- Your baby will also be able to focus and fixate on objects that are within 8 to 12 inches away – so you know what is happening when they seem to be wandering into nothingness, they actually can’t focus on objects beyond 12 inches!
- Expect your baby to also display a lot of built-in newborn reflexes like the rooting reflex (when you stroke their cheek, they’ll turn in that direction). This rooting reflection helps babies place the mother’s breast or the milk bottle at the time of feeding.
- Your baby will also make a lot of ‘sucking’ expressions as a part of the in-built sucking reflex.
Your newborn and 1-week-old baby's health
Your baby, in most cases, will be scheduled for a postpartum appointment at the hospital within their first week after birth. Here’s what to expect from their first medical examination-
1. Baby Apgar tests and other screenings
The pediatrician will conduct an Apgar test on your newborn to assess the baby’s appearance, pulse, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing. Apart from Apgar, you can also expect your baby to undergo a test for metabolic and hormonal disorders, a congenital heart disease test, and a hearing test.
2. A shot of vitamin K
Your baby will be recommended a shot of vitamin K to improve their blood clotting ability.
3. Baby's umbilical stump care
Your doctor will also recommend you clean the baby’s umbilical stump every day in order to keep it dry and to avoid any infections as a result of the detached umbilical cord
Postpartum baby tips: Week 1 after birth
There may be a lot of questions you may be beating your head around in your baby’s first week after birth. This is only normal as you would naturally be curious about understanding everything going on with your baby down to the T. Here, we’ve tried covering the most common areas of concern and doubts in the baby’s first week after birth.
Understanding your baby's weight
Wondering why does your baby weigh less or more than your friend’s baby or an average baby? There are many reasons why.
- Your baby’s weight is highly dependent on what you, as the mother, consumed before and during pregnancy. Your own weight and dietary habits contribute majorly to the baby’s at-birth weight. For example, you may be an average-sized mom but your baby may be born underweight if you fail to take a nutritious diet during pregnancy.
- Apart from a mother’s own weight and dietary habits, genetics, the order of the baby (your first baby v/s second or third baby), the gender of the baby (boy v/s girl), nature of the baby (single baby v/s twin baby) and the baby’s race also plays a major role in their at-birth weight. For example, babies born in pairs as a triplet or a twin will with a lesser than an ingenious baby, a firstborn is smaller than subsequent babies, etc.
Understanding your newborn's appearance
Wondering how long would your baby appear the way they look in their first week and what’s going to change over time?
- Your baby’s lanugo, the fine hair covering the newborn body, will be shed and lost within the first few weeks, exposing the baby-smooth, soft and buttery skin under.
- Your baby’s head will also lose the hair that they are born with (if any), and it will be replaced by the hair of a completely different texture and color.
- Your baby boys’ swollen scrotum/ baby girl’s swollen labia will transform to a normal-looking scrotum/ labia within the first few days.
Understanding the health risks associated with a newborn baby
Newborn babies are very vulnerable to contracting jaundice. Jaundice occurs in as many as 60 percent of newborn babies within the first 2-3 days after birth, lasting anywhere between a week – 10 days in total. Let us understand the newborn jaundice signs.
- Your baby will likely display the most common sign and condition, to begin with: a yellowish skin tone.
- It will appear first on the face and then spread to the rest of the body, often also tuning the white of the eye to a dirty yellow color.
- If your baby is very light-skinned and it is difficult to determine the yellow tint on their shade of the skin, put your baby in natural sunlight and gently press their forehead and nose with your fingers. The yellowing may then visible on the impressions you make with your fingers
- For a dark-skinned baby, you can check the palms or soles of the baby for any visible discoloration.
- Keep in mind that there’s nothing much that can be done to avoid the onset of jaundice in a newborn baby and it usually goes away on its own, perhaps requiring only mild treatment if any, and does not cause any major side effects to be worried about. However, make sure you reach out to your doctor at the earliest.
The mother's body after childbirth: What is happening in your body in the first week after giving birth?
Your first postpartum poop
- Having pushed out a 7-pound baby, it is only normal for you to feel worried about excretion and having to push out poop from your body.
- Since your stomach muscles have overtime at the time of your baby’s birth, you may feel weak in your stomach and may find it difficult to excrete.
- You may also feel worried about splitting your stitches, aggravating your hemorrhoids, or experiencing pain.
- However, we recommend that you try and get your bowel movements to regular as soon as possible after giving birth. You can also speak to your door about using safe laxatives if pushing seems a little too difficult right after delivering the baby.
Your puffy postpartum eyes
As a result of pushing out the baby as in the case of normal vaginal birth, it is common for moms to display back, blue, or even bloodshot puffy postpartum eyes. This happens as a result of excessive muscle straining and is an absolutely harmless as well as a temporary symptom after childbirth.
- Expect the swelling in your eyes and face to fade away in a couple of weeks at most.
- The baggy eyes may stay for a little longer as your body still contains a lot of pregnancy fluids that need to be first washed out for your eyes to come back to normalcy.
- The fatigue post-delivery also adds to the puffy eyes and face.
- If the puff bothers you a lot, you may try applying a cold compress and cold tea bags as a means to reduce the swelling and puffiness.
- Safe eye gels that contain arnica, chamomile, and cucumber as ingredients can also be topically applied as a remedy.
- Also, avoid consumption of salty foods and alcohol for a few days after delivery as that adds to the puffiness of the eyes.
- Rest, above everything else, will of course save the day!
Final Thoughts- Becoming a confident parent
As a new parent, please remember to not be too hard on yourself, You are as new to this whole situation as is the baby’s existence and so, it only makes sense for you to need some time to get used to taking care of the baby.
Your body will be in an exhausted and overwhelmed state which, when clubbed with the responsibility of a child, could take over your head and the way you perceive things. With experience and as time passes, you will naturally get a better hang of things as a part of your parental instinct and your baby, on the other hand, will also get more used to their existence as a whole. Through it all, take some time off for yourself, focus on taking care of the baby, support your partner through the process, and do not beat yourself down if you go wrong at times- you are only human after all!